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October 07, 2009

Telepresence Q&A: BrightCom Offers Solutions for Video Conferencing Infrastructure Dip

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Blame it on the global economic recession. The apparent growth in the Asia-Pacific video conferencing infrastructure market is expected to decline this year as companies scale back on expenses, a recent Frost & Sullivan report found.
The report, called “Asia-Pacific Video Conferencing Infrastructure Market,” predicted the market would rise only 11.4 percent this year compared to 15.7 percent in 2008. Yet spending is on infrastructure is expected to rise again as companies adopt high-definition video conferencing systems, which require infrastructure upgrades, the report said. The market, which covers 13 Asia-Pacific countries, is expected to increase from $83.1 million in 2008, to $238.7 million by 2015, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 14.4 percent.
The findings, however, come as no surprise to industry experts. Bob McCandless, CEO of BrightCom, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based provider of integrated telepresence and video conferencing solutions, spoke with TMCnet about the research and how the telepresence provider is addressing businesses’ needs in wake of the turbulent economic times.
Our exchange follows.
TMCnet: Do you agree with Frost & Sullivan’s (News - Alert) findings? Why or why not?
Bob McCandless (pictured left): Yes, infrastructure costs for HD video conferencing and telepresence solutions will be increasing due to several factors. First, consumer-based video conferencing is selling at a much higher rate than before. Today, applications like MS Roundtable and Web-based tools like Skype and WebEx are purchased and used as an easier and cheaper way to communicate instantly. As more employees drive the demand to communicate in their businesses through these instant video mediums, more businesses will start to investigate a higher quality of video conferencing.
Second, as the interest in higher quality communication increases, businesses will want larger HD systems with larger screen sizes and corresponding resolutions. This ultimately increases the need for a larger infrastructure with the ability to manage multiple video participants and an increased amount of bandwidth necessary to operate the video conferencing system.
Finally, the proliferation of endpoints is a major factor businesses need to think about. Before, businesses focused on their conference room and a private network. Now they need to think about the multiple conference rooms, desktops PCs, laptops, cell phones and home offices that will enable customers, partners and co-workers to communicate instantly.
TMCnet: How does BrightCom approach the industry?
BM: BrightCom offers a large variety of endpoint solutions, including telepresence suites, conference rooms, desktops, and web-based users. Unlike our competitors BrightCom can do multi-way meeting without the need for a Media Control Unites. BrightCom’s video conferencing and telepresence infrastructure is a sing network appliance solution that enables video to be broadcasted with more flexible utilization of bandwidth. By adding processing power to codecs and removing the MCU, the BrightCom Visual Collaboration System with the our ClearView Video Conferencing and/or Lumina Telepresence (News - Alert) Codecs, provides a single unit for multi-way conferencing up to 16 participants, multi-screen management and adjustable bandwidth options. The VCS network appliance enables meeting scheduling, full Web conferencing capabilities and NAT/firewall traversal, as well as integrates with VoIP systems. This same infrastructure also enables participants in meetings to pass control of the meeting, remote control another participant’s desktop and cooperatively markup shared documents, images and video clips.
BrightCom’s conferencing system allows meetings for one to one or one to many. The system provides a secure, Web-based meeting environment, which allows an infinite amount of participants to join and view meetings. What BrightCom competitors require in multiple components to do, BrightCom does in a single appliance, lowering the overall costand providing a higher level of integration for more value. This allows for businesses to grown their video conferencing infrastructure dynamically without dramatically increasing costs or complexity.
TMCnet: The report said corporations are scaling back infrastructure deployments. What role does the economic downturn have on this?
BM: Economic pressure has caused many businesses to scale back their infrastructure deployments. Many businesses that have already implemented a video conferencing system are now reducing its use because of the cost associated with infrastructure upgrades. There are also cheaper alternatives like PC-based or Web-based applications. As employees start to use RoundTable, Skype (News - Alert) or WebEx, the video conferencing system that can easily provide HD communication sits idle. Furthermore, businesses are accepting a lower experience of communication as they sacrifice an integrated system with clear video, audio and data conferencing for several systems that do not integrate and provide a lower quality of visibility and audibility.
TMCnet: Do most telepresence offerings require large bandwidth requirements? Will this be the case in the future?
BM: Most telepresence offerings have large amounts of bandwidth requirements. Today bandwidth will vary based on customer's needs. Some will focus on video, while others on data. The bandwidth needs for telepresence are very high because of the larger screen sizes and multiple screens that are the hallmark of the telepresence experience. As the screen size increases for more immersive and life-like experiences, resolution and therefore bandwidth must increase as well. If the screen is over 65 inches in width, even HD video signal will produce a sub-standard image. Because telepresence innovation is expanding the need for larger screen sizes such as 100-inch screens, the technology will need ultra-HD resolutions, vast amounts of bandwidth and bandwidth management to allow for the broadcast of video and data. This will drive up the cost in the future as we continue to explore telepresence experience as immersive as possible. However, BrightCom is taking several steps to apply its software-based infrastructure to new and innovative environments for telepresence communications that have the potential to lower bandwidth requirements and increase video and data resolution.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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